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Reviews of 'The Lake of Death'

The Lake of Death

by Jean Rabe
Age of Mortals, Volume 6

Reviews of 'The Lake of Death'

Here are the visitor reviews we have of The Lake of Death. For more information about this title, please visit the item detail page.

Reviewer: Cassandra Jacobs

Rating: Stars

I've definitely been on a string of really bad books lately. It's been awhile since I've run into a bad Dragonlance book though, but with Lake of Death, I can now count the string of bad luck complete.

That being said, I'm usually pretty forgiving of a lot of books. I don't expect high-grade literature, but I do expect a story that keeps me interested and doesn't insult my intelligence. Unfortunately, this story definitely doesn't do well on either the interesting or the insulting aspects.

The general storyline is about Dhamon, an ex-champion of Goldmoon and Hero of the Heart, who was turned into some compilation of chromatic dragons, metallic dragons, and a shadow dragon (so he's some sort of mixture of all kinds) at the end of the Dhamon Saga. He feels confused, desiring to be returned to his natural form, but also revels in the feelings of power and strength the dragon form gives him. He's still partnered with Ragh, the sivak draconian, and the two of them have carved out a section of Sable's swamp for their lair. Driven by his confusion, Dhamon locates Feril, the Kagonesti elf he once loved, and asks her to help him break the spell. They travel to the Lake of Death, the body of water that flooded the capital city of the Qualinesti in the battle against Beryl, where Feril goes underwater to locate information and magical artifacts to help Dhamon. She leaves with answers and the spirit of an elven wizard in a flask and her, Dhamon and Ragh go off to locate dragon scales from an overlord to break the spell. They encounter a band of dwarves and eventually Sable, where the story concludes in a battle between the black overlord and Dhamon.

The story, on the surface, sounds interesting and exciting, and based on how much I enjoyed the Dhamon trilogy, I happily picked this book up. Needless to say, a quarter of the way through it, I was disappointed, annoyed, and generally fed up with it. There weren't just a few things, but a lot of things that led me to think this was a really bad book.

First off, the story itself lacked substance. As a result, there was a lot of filler writing, such as going over details of past events (such as those in the Dhamon trilogy, the Dragons of a New Age trilogy, and even distant events such as the forging of the dragonlances). This didn't add to the story at all... it was distracting and bothersome. Even though this book falls after those six others, it should have enough content to stand on its own without having to read the preludes. If it doesn't, and you need to fill space explaining what happened in the previous stories, there's something wrong. Another method used to fill space was inane chatter by the characters. Every single character prattled on about things that didn't pertain to the current events they were enmeshed in, or were obviously talking just to fill up silent spaces. Again, this is distracting and bothersome.

I found the major crux of the plotline itself to be completely unrealistic and silly. Dhamon was polymorphed into this dragon form due to the powers/influences of at least three extremely powerful dragons: the red overlord, Malys; Silvara, the silver dragon; and the shadow dragon. With the help of a few ghostly elven wizards and a few days in the Lake of Death, Feril comes up with the magical solution to break the spell, which boils down to using a simple Dispel Magic powered by magical artifacts and an overlord dragon scale. I'm sorry, but this shouldn't have been so easy to figure out... never mind giving an elf with nature/druidic type magic and a magic-dabbling draconian the ability to cast this spell. Even though the story is fantasy, I still expect some measure of "realism".

In the past, I've heard that Rabe's writing is too much like reading AD&D game books. I've seen it within the novel The Silver Stair and in her short stories. I don't recall it much in the Dhamon trilogy or the New Age trilogy, but it was definitely visible in this novel. The description of the goblins could easily have been taken directly from the Monster Manual... which doesn't quite fit into the descriptions of most goblins I've ever read.

Inconsistencies - I can be pretty forgiving of some types and not of others. When a book has many, plus creates even more by shoddy writing, it just hurts my brain. Some quick examples:

  • The companions meet up with a group of dwarves, which are described as Neidar (hill) dwarves. But several references following this insinuate they are mountain dwarves instead.
  • Dhamon has a dream where it explicitely states at the start that he's in human form. But it keeps switching back and forth between him being human or dragon. At first, this could be seen a "dream tool", insinuating that his psyche has a hard time differentiating between both forms, but reading it closer, it becomes more obvious that the author seems to have forgotten what form she started with.
  • The Hammer of Kharas is called the "Hammer of Kharan". I've never heard of such a thing.
  • Not once, but twice, Nuitari is mentioned. The first time, it was the "light of Nuitari". The second time, Nuitari is mentioned to be seen rising in the sky. Revelation for the author... a black moon does not cast light, nor can it be seen to be rising, unless you walk the path of evil. Based on the fact that Lunitari is mentioned, I think the author was confusing Nuitari with Solinari, the white moon.
  • The biggest consistency error I noticed was the water within the Lake of Death. Previous material I've read described the lake as containing water which was poisonous and acidic, with chlorine (from the big dead green dragon lying at the bottom) being responsible for the pollution. Yet Feril enters the lake without any problems, swimming and breathing the water. She finds the lake full of fish and plant life. Last time I looked, a lake of acid wasn't conducive to living critters.

Finally, the title of the book itself, Lake of Death, insinuates this story is about the lake over Qualinost. The book deals with it for about half of the story. The other half has nothing to do with the lake. In fact, the three companions leave the lake and never discuss it again. Sadly, I felt that there was a lot that could have been done with the lake, from the discovery of Beryl's still intact body, to the buildings, treasures, and ghostly inhabitants of the city itself. But these were glossed over quickly, with very little time spent on them. It could have been so much more.

I haven't been disappointed in a Dragonlance book for awhile, but this book definitely left me annoyed, frustrated, and crestfallen... after the great story in the Dhamon trilogy, I was looking forward to the conclusion of the fallen warrior's saga. Instead, I read an unbelievable story that left a very bad taste in my mouth.

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